Supply vs. Demand under an Affirmative Action Ban: Estimates from UC Law Schools

Danny Yagan

NBER Working Paper No. 20361
Issued in July 2014
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS   PE

Affirmative action bans can reduce black enrollment not only by reducing black admission advantages (contracting demand) but also by reducing applications (contracting supply) from black students who can still gain admission but prefer alternative schools that still practice affirmative action. When affirmative action was banned at UC law schools, Berkeley's black applications and enrollment declined by almost half even as black admission rates rose relative to whites. I ask whether black enrollment at UC law schools would have markedly declined even without the supply contraction. I find in a large sample of students applying to law schools nationwide that black supply contractions were driven mostly or entirely by students unlikely to gain admission under the ban, yielding stronger post-ban black applicant pools. Holding applicant pools constant, I estimate that the ban reduced black admission rates at both Berkeley and UCLA by half. Hence, black enrollment at these elite schools would likely have plummeted even if supply contractions had been muted---as could occur under a nationwide ban that eliminates affirmative-action-practicing alternatives.

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This paper was revised on December 22, 2015

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20361

Published: Danny Yagan, 2016. "Supply vs. demand under an affirmative action ban: Estimates from UC law schools," Journal of Public Economics, vol 137, pages 38-50. citation courtesy of

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